Volume 46, Issue 1/2, April/November 2020
Hume and the Laws of Nature
The common view that Hume is a regularity theorist about laws of nature isn’t textually well grounded. The texts show that he thinks of them as objective governing principles that could conceivably be violated while still counting as a law of nature. This is a standard view at the time, and Hume borrows it from others. He implies that the best evidence for rational religion is the exceptionless workings of the laws of nature, he argues that suicide isn’t incompatible with the will of God by identifying his will with the laws of nature, and he has Philo argue for the existence of God from the simplicity of the laws governing the world. He sheds some of the theological baggage that laws of nature carry at the time, but not all of it.